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       Chinese Christians stopped from praying in Sichuan
         Posted on :19:16:07 May 12, 2018
       Last edited on:19:16:07 May 12, 2018
         Tags: Chinese Christians, stopped praying, Sichuan

HONG KONG: Cracking down on the minority Christian community once again, police in Chengdu, the capital of China's southwestern Sichuan province, prevented them from holding a special prayer meeting on Saturday on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the earthquake in Sichuan.

The ceremony was to be held at a church in Chengdu city, but a posse of policemen stepped in and arrested over 100 people this morning. Police also interrogated a priest identified as Wang Yi.

Taking to social media, Fengsuo Zhou, a participant in the vociferous protest, confirmed the news of the arrests and the questioning of Pastor Wang Yi of the Chengdu Qiuyu Church.

In his tweet" written in Chinese, Zhou said, "Because of the special prayer meeting for the 10th anniversary of the 512th Earthquake today, Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu Qiuyu Church was summoned last night. More than one hundred people from the congregation who came to the prayer meeting were arrested this morning."

"The police sent hundreds of officers to contain them. They held guns and used violence. The church workers were placed under house arrest and were not allowed to leave," he added.

Liu Yi Niu, a follower of Zhou on Twitter, asked, "What is the reason for arresting people?"

Last month, authorities in China reportedly cracked down on Christians, taking steps ranging from demolition of churches, desecration of tombs, forbidding children from entering churches, threatening Catholics and denying government subsidies and pensions to church believers.

Recent Chinese repression efforts have targetted both house and state-sanctioned churches through the harassment and detention of Christian believers, blocking entry to sites of worship, interrupting gatherings, dismantling crosses, demolishing churches, or disbanding congregations.

An website report had said then that acts of persecution and violation of Christian edifices were being frequently reported from the central Chinese province of Henan.

The report further said that these acts of persecution and prohibition were in fact a promotion of new government regulations on religious activities that have come into effect from February this year. said that the application of these regulations "is a litmus test to see if resistance is posed, and to study how to suffocate it. Later the regulations will be applied throughout the country, even in places where Catholics are a good percentage of the population, as in Hebei or Shanxi."

Beijing, it claimed then, wass taking action against both official and underground communities to prevent conversions to Christianity and the emergence of powerful religious renaissance in the country.

A Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) report published in March this year said, "China has witnessed a religious revival over the past four decades, in particular with a significant increase in Christian believers. The number of Chinese Protestants has grown by an average of 10 percent annually since 1979. By some estimates, China is on track to have the world's largest population of Christians by 2030."

Article 36 of the Chinese constitution protects freedom of religion. Yet that protection is limited to so-called "normal religious activities," explicitly stating that "no one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the education system of the state."

"Christians have faced growing repression in recent years. Over the past twenty-five years, China ranked tenth as a country where it is most difficult and dangerous to practice Christianity," according to Open Doors, a U.S.-based Christian non-profit that tracks the persecution of Christians worldwide.

It further stated that repression campaigns in China ebb and flow. While traditionally house and underground churches faced the brunt of persecution, under President Xi Jinping's leadership, state-sanctioned churches have been targeted as well.

According to the CFR report, the Communist Party of China (CCP) identifies religious groups as potential threats to national security, social harmony and core interests and religion in China remains inherently political.

It may be recalled that Sichuan was hit by a massive earthquake, measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale on May 12, 2008. The "Great Wenchuan Earthquake" as the Chinese described it, claimed the lives of 69,000 people, left 374,176 injured and listed 18,222 as missing.

The earthquake's epicenter was located 80 kilometers west-northwest of Chengdu, the provincial capital, with a focal depth of 19 kilometers.

The earthquake occurred along the Longmenshan Fault, a thrust structure along the border of the Indo-Australian Plate and Eurasian Plate. Seismic activities concentrated on its mid-fracture (known as Yingxiu-Beichuan fracture). The rupture lasted close to 120 seconds, with the majority of energy released in the first 80 seconds.

The impact of the earthquake was also felt in nearby countries and as far away as both Beijing and Shanghai (1500 kilometers and 1700 kilometers respectively away)

Strong aftershocks continued to hit the area up to several months after the main quake, causing further casualties and damage.

It was the deadliest earthquake to hit China since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake, which killed at least 240,000 people, and the strongest in the country since the 1950 Chayu earthquake, which registered at 8.5 on the Richter magnitude scale.

It was declared as the 21st deadliest earthquake of all time.

In November, 2008, the Chinese government announced that it would spend a trillion RMB (about USD 146.5 billion) over the next three years to rebuild areas ravaged by the earthquake.

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